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Sept. 16, 2021

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Bellingham lawyer who abandoned her practice suspected of stealing $285,000 from clients

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A Bellingham family lawyer who abandoned her practice is suspected of stealing more than a quarter million dollars from a divorced couple and collecting $7,000 from another client for services she did not perform.

The Bellingham Police Department booked Mara Aquaillian Snyder, 41, into Whatcom County Jail Monday, June 28, on suspicion of two counts of first-degree theft. Jail records show she was released later Monday on $2,000 bond.

Police were notified April 16 of two reports of felony theft by Snyder, who practiced family law, Lt. Claudia Murphy told The Bellingham Herald in an email.

In May of 2019, a person who was going through a divorce hired Snyder as their attorney and paid her $300 for a consultation, $5,000 as a retainer and an additional $22,000 in fees for court preparation, Murphy reported.

In June of 2019, the couple getting divorced sold a house and property for a little more than $322,000, according to Murphy, and the funds were deposited into a trust account, which is a common practice during divorce proceedings.

In August of 2019, both parties in the divorce received an agreed upon amount of funds, leaving $282,000 in the trust account under Snyder’s control, Murphy reported.

After Snyder abandoned her practice in February of 2021, the trust for the divorced couple was found to have progressively lost value from the $282,000 to $1,137.77 until a court ordered the account transferred to an appointed custodian, according to Murphy.

Additionally, another victim hired Snyder in July of 2019, retaining her services and paying her $7,000 for work that has since been discovered did not take place as promised, Murphy reported.

The total value lost for all known victims is approximately $285,000, according to Murphy.

Snyder turned herself Monday morning at the Bellingham Police Department and was booked into jail.

According to the Washington State Bar Association and Whatcom County Bar Association directories, Snyder is still a licensed attorney in Washington state, and Pacific Coast Family Law, PLLC, is listed as her contact information.

Pacfiic Coast Family Law’s website states that it is “formerly The Law Office of Mara Snyder, PLLC,” and she is the only attorney listed on the website.

Neither the phone number nor email provided on the website were working on Wednesday.

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